Squeaky Bum Time For Los MerenguesStats
Espanyol v Real Madrid
The fat lady is warming her vocal chords for the Spanish title race with Real Madrid forced to win both remaining games to have any chance of claiming the crown starting with Espanyol on Sunday.
A disastrous ten days for Real culminated with them being knocked out of the Champions League by Juventus on Wednesday following a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu which meant a 3-2 aggregate win for the Italian champions to send the European Cup holders packing.
That came on the back of a 2-2 draw away to Valencia in La Liga last weekend that all but handed the league title to bitter rivals Barcelona as Los Merengues fell four points behind the Catalonians. Those three games without a win looks to have decided boss Carlo Ancelotti’s fate and that of his side who’ve conceded seven times in their last four but have picked up as many wins and scored more goals than any side in the division away from home.
Cristiano Ronaldo is La Liga’s top scorer this season with another astonishing haul of 42 league goals and 55 for the club in all competitions, including five in his last four appearances.
Following four wins in seven games and only one defeat in their last ten – against champions elect and city neighbours Barcelona – Espanyol are ending the season on a high and look set for a respectable top-half finish although they’re too far adrift of Villarreal to earn a Europa League spot. Sergio Gonzalez’ side won 2-0 away at Eibar last weekend and have scored in seven of their last eight, the 2-0 loss to Barca being the only exception, while only the league’s top five sides have conceded fewer goals on home soil this season.
With 12 goals in the Spanish top flight, Sergio Garcia is his side’s top scorer, including two in his last three outings.
Jose Canas is still suspended for Espanyol following his red card against Rayo Vallecano a fortnight ago but they have a fully fit squad to select from otherwise.
Sergio Ramos is set to miss the remainder of the season for Real after the defender suffered a torn calf muscle against Juve with Luka Modric and Alvaro Medran also unlikely to feature again in the current campaign. Boss Ancelotti also begins a two-match touchline ban.
Real ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the reverse fixture at the Bernabeu back in January to record their fifth victory in a row against these opponents, with Espanyol failing to score in eleven of the last 13 clashes losing all of them, while their last win against Real came back in 2007.
It’s hard to predict how Real will react following an awful week for the club which has all but assured them of ending the season without a trophy so the 1/2 on an away win looks far too short to take the risk, even though they should be more than capable of taking all the points.
The 7/10 on both teams scoring looks a far better punt at odds-on prices here and with Ronaldo on course to have the consolation of successive Pichichi and European Golden boot awards, take the Portuguese at 8/13 to score anytime and 11/4 to score first.
*Prices correct at time of publication